Tony Elumelu Foundation Announces Eight Liberians for its Entrepreneurship Support Program

Eight Liberian entrepreneurs have been announced to benefit from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Support Program.

The entrepreneurs include Berlyn Sanusie, Daniel Johnson, Gabriel Zargo, Gonda Wamah, Jr., James Tarnue, Jr., Michaelyn George, Moses Davies and Saah Hendrix Johnson.

They are among 1,000 entrepreneurs selected from a total of 151,000 applications from Africans in 114 countries this year. The applicants presented the most innovative, high-potential business ideas to lead transformation on the continent.

According to the foundation, the program provides critical tools for business success, including a 12-week intensive online training in creating and managing a business, a world-class mentor to provide guidance during the early transformation stages of the business, US$5,000 in seed funding to prove the concept, plus access to further funding, and access to the largest network of African startups and the foundation’s global contacts.

Branded as the largest philanthropy championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent, the program launched in 2014 as a 10-year, US$100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor, and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs by 2024.

It is exclusively targeted to benefit entrepreneurs who are citizens or legal residents of Africa where he or she also owns a for-profit business.

Tony Elumelu, the founder of the program, said the number and quality of applicants this year was outstanding.

“It illustrates the strength and depth of entrepreneurial promise and commitment on our continent,” the statement quoted Elumelu.

He said the selection is never easy, and the foundation regrets that it cannot help all.

“Our partnerships with the Red Cross, UNDP, and Indorama, alongside ongoing discussions with other international organizations, reflect the growing global recognition of what we have known all along – that entrepreneurship is the most effective path to sustainable development on our continent and our program is the model to follow,” he added.

The foundation reported there was a near 50-50 split between male and female applications, ‎reflecting the entrepreneurial ambition of Africa’s women.

It said agriculture was the leading sector among selected entrepreneurs, at 30.5 percent, followed by technology (10.5 percent) and education and training (9 percent).

The release said the foundation’s CEO, Parminder Vir, also announced that over the next nine months, the entrepreneurs will receive online training and mentoring and will use the skills acquired to develop business plans prior to receiving the US$5,000 in seed capital.

“This will bring TEF’s total program investment so far to US$15 million in direct funding to entrepreneurs and US$5.8 million in program and technology development and operations,” the release further disclosed.

The organization said its beneficiaries have created more than 55,000 jobs and counting and will convene from across all of Africa’s 54 countries to Lagos this October for the TEF Forum, which it termed as the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in the world.

TEF’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs, the foundation said, is emblematic of Elumelu’s philosophy of “Africapitalism,” which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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